Living for an Audience of One
I really like to play golf. I don’t get to play much, and I’m not great at it. But I’ve been navigating around courses since I was 14. Golf is a funny game. You can go from round to round and even shot to shot and move from, “I love this game!” to, “I’m never playing this stupid game again!” It requires focus and concentration, and you have to be OK with all eyes being on you for every shot. You normally play with up to three other people, and everyone else waits and watches as you take your next shot.
I was recently playing a round with some relatives. It was a slow day on the course with lots of people playing. When it’s slow, you are often waiting on the group that is in front of you before you can hit your next shot. If the group that is behind you is fast, they can often arrive at their next shot while you are still waiting to hit yours. They simply have to sit and wait for you and watch. On one particular hole, I was in a good position around the green. I had a type of shot that I love to hit, and I was poised to get a great score on the hole. As I got ready to hit the shot, I decided to glance up and see if the group behind us was watching. I’m not really sure why I looked up. Maybe I wanted for them to see me hit a great shot because they, sure enough, had seen me hit some bad ones! Instead of just focusing on my mechanics and hitting the best shot I could, I focused on who was watching me as I performed. Let’s not talk about where the ball went.
If I’m honest, as a leader in ministry, I can often do the same thing I did on that shot. I can be in the midst of doing my job and the ministry that is before me and subtly stop to look around and see who’s watching. We often want the right people to see us doing the right things so we can somehow look better in their eyes. We can subconsciously think that we have to perform to a certain level to be accepted. Our insecurities can lead us to focus on who is watching what we are doing instead of just doing what is before us and doing it to the best of our ability. Our tendency to want praise and recognition can lead us to not be our authentic selves and often not be at our best. We can feel an unhealthy pressure that leads us to a place of stress and anxiety that keeps us from being who God has created us to be.
So, I need to remember what I heard years ago. I need to live for an “audience of one” where I know and trust that God loves me no matter what, and my life should be centered on honoring Him. I need to rest on my identity in Christ and not fixate on how well I perform in any situation. Matthew 6:1 says it this way: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Verses 2-18 of Matthew 6 give us a bigger picture of how we are to act and live as we seek to follow Jesus and not worry about who might be watching or the pressure we might feel to perform.